Monday, December 16, 2013

Week #34 - How Did a Bat Get Into Our Building?

Sunday, December 1, 2013
As the Sierra Leone saints say, today has been sweet! We visited all the branches but two to meet with our temple saints to find out how they enjoyed their week-long journey. If embraces and tears were any indication, I think it was a very rewarding trip. Words can't express the love and gratitude we felt from these wonderful people for providing them this likely once-in-a-lifetime experience. In a past conference, President Monson has asked if we had the means and felt so inclined, to donate to a general temple fund. The benefit of that fund was manifest in this temple trip. Each of the participants had to secure their passports, and make a “sacrifice” of money to show commitment and faith. They also had to get themselves to the ferry Monday morning to start the journey as well as pay for any food they would consume throughout the week. The rest of the travel was covered by the church temple funds and fast offerings – Kissy Ferry, transportation from ferry to airport; airline tickets; transportation from Accra airport to temple; then all the return transportation needs. The temple has a housing facility they were able to stay in that was part of the covered trip. Without this, they would have never been able to go. I am so grateful for all the wonderful saints throughout the world who contribute to this fund!

Back to the saints and their trip – their beautiful brown eyes shone so bright as they came to us and put their arms around us! Our beloved Bai Sesay told us he had no words to express his gratitude so he prayed that we would be blessed, our children would be blessed and our children's children! He went on to tell us he would never forget us.

It was a very humbling and emotional day – I told Scott if we came here just for these 50 people, it has been worth all the struggles and challenges. We take no credit for this as there were many miracles along the road to this trip; we made ourselves available for the Lord to use us to bless these wonderful people. I think they “floated” the entire time they were in Accra and bonded as a district as we would at home, when on a Stake adventure such as a trek, etc. As I have said before, they don't have much, so when I was told they decided to leave their left over dried foods they brought in the kitchen at the temple housing with a note, “please feel free to use the food in this cupboard,” I was quite touched.

A humorous experience Julius James told me about – a group of the men took off to the local market to buy some supplies while the rest stayed back; they came to a zebra (what is a zebra you ask?) which is their name for a cross walk, and they were so surprised to have cars stop and wait for them to cross. That doesn't happen in Sierra Leone! You fear for a loss of limb or life when crossing the street here.
Such a wonderful day!
Monday, December 2, 2013

We had dinner out tonight with the Burns, Schlehubers, and Ostlers. The Schlehubers go home tomorrow after a dedicated and hard working 23 month mission. They will be missed in Bo where they essentially served by themselves with minimal contact any other senior couples because of the distance a 4 hour drive. Very admirable. They head home to Sun City, Arizona tomorrow.
Schlehuber's and Kanzler's

150 red pencils I need to sharpen for Christmas gifts.

Cold inside the car coming home from dinner so when Scott stepped out into the hot and humid air, his glasses fogged up.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Uneventful day at the office until Rachelle and I drove home while Scott and David were at a District Priesthood meeting at out East.

A retainer wall is now being constructed on Pademba Road right outside the gate to the mission office which has taken a “two” lane road and narrowed it down to one lane. So I pull out and what's coming at me but a poda poda and it is not about to back up, so I have to and then must not only back up but inch my way over so he can pass and if I wanted to, as he drove along side me, I could have put my hand and part of my arm through the driver's side window he was that close.

I get beyond Pademba Road and we are winding our way up to the mission home, when I stop to let a lady cross the street because traffic slowed and the oncoming car has stopped as well. She no sooner gets beyond my car, when I see a motorcycle out of my side-view mirror, and I can see it coming and he isn't stopping and he plows right into the woman and knocks her in the air and she comes down 50' in front of us. Miraculously, after all her worldly goods that were on the top of her head went all over the road, she stood up and got to the side of the road. The guy on the motorcycle was a little ways up on the side, more worried about his bent handlebars and light! Not something I see every day (but I am in Sierra Leone) nor do I care to see it again – a shock to my system.

So, we get beyond the lady being run over and arrive home, get our stuff out of the car, and open the steel door, go to turn on a light and realize the generator needs to be turned on and neither one of us has done that before. There are 2 to choose from and of course we picked the wrong one, so Rachelle makes a phone call to the guys and gets instructions from them. Check the oil, push the green button, and then the button with the hand on it; generator starts right up, but no lights. Hmmm....we must pull up some lever, which I can't see, but fortunately the guard comes to our rescue and flips it up and we now have full generator power. P.S. to this experience – when Scott gets home he relates to me that President Ostler says to him after hanging up with his wife, “They aren't going to need us anymore. They can drive without us and now they can start the generator without us.”

Turning on the generator for the 1st time.

Checking the oil.

Baby bat.

Three more locks, and I will be in my apartment, but once Rachelle turns on the hall light and begins to head upstairs, she stops short and tells me there is a baby bat on the stairway. I am telling her it is just a piece of black plastic bag blowing around – no she says, it is a bat. Upon closer inspection, it is in deed a baby bat! Neither one of us want to hang around for that (I am thinking where there is a baby bat, there is a mama bat close by), so we yell for the guard to come and help us get rid of it while Rachelle and I hide out around the car. Thanks to the security guard, Rachelle and I finally were able to get into our apartments. All this excitement happened in less than one hour.

Saturday, December 7, 2013
Freetown East District YW activity all day – 120 + were in attendance as we traveled by ferry over to Lungi and the little village of Targin. As we exited the ferry, we had just a little walk to an area where the tribal chief allowed us to use area for our gathering as well as the school to set up the musical equipment and for the use of school benches. It was a very hot day. When we arrived, I observed local women in an argument over piles of rocks but of course I had no idea what they were upset about because they were speaking Krio. Kids were swimming in the ocean, and the shore was covered in litter. Two hours later when I looked at the beach, the tide was out, and the area where the kids had been swimming, was just covered in garbage and debris; so polluted and filthy. I had only read about such things until I came here. It was another wake-up call about living in a 3rd world country. I am glad I took along an extra pair of shoes because my beach comber shoes were placed in a plastic bag and left outside of our apartment until Monday when I can thoroughly clean them with bleach and soap.

Kids swimming.

Women arguing over piles of rocks.

The view after the tide had gone out.

The young women just love to dance and so Sister James had planned for that. With no electricity, she had to take her generator so between it running and two ginormous music speakers, it was a very noisy day. Some of the young ladies started dancing the bunny hop and looked towards me so, of course, I had to join them. (See video of Sister Kanzler dancing with the YW here -

Freetown East District YW

Freetown East District YW

Freetown East District YW

5 in the back seat, plus a generator and two huge speakers!

Scott and I walked along the shoreline for awhile with about 11 local children in tow; Scott found a beautiful conch shell, and when the children saw my excitement with this treasure, they ran ahead and came back with more shells. I love ocean shell-seeking walks. Today's was quite challenging as I had to dodge so much garbage as I walked, but I managed to find beauty with the children and the shells.

Drying her rice in the sun.

My little shell seeking friends!

No more than 6 years old and carrying this toddler on her back.

Our 1st discovery of beauty in all the garbage.

Much love, Robin

More snaps:

Scott and his buddy, Sylvanus

The first batch of 50 ready for assembly and to be sent out to Bo and Kenema this week.

Without my glasses on, I thought this might be a sibling to the bat in the living room - no, just a cockroach with a wing span.

Week #33 - The Temple Trip!

Sunday, November 24, 2013
Attended Grafton Branch today; one of our missionaries is acting as the branch president and we wanted to offer our support. From there, we drove back to the office to create some more documents to help the saints for the Temple trip tomorrow; then back to Kissy for a 2:00 pm meeting with the saints going on the trip. It is so exciting to be part of this trip getting it organized and coming to fruition. The planning started in July with making the reservation at the Accra Temple. I am so proud of Scott who was the major player between the two of us getting this trip organized and the saints ready to go. Tomorrow we rise early to meet everyone at the Kissy Ferry and ride over with them to Lungi in order to catch their flight to Accra.

Sunday morning washing and bathing.

The local laundry room near Grafton. All are welcome!

One last meeting for the temple trip.

Monday, November 25, 2013
Today was the day! Our beloved saints in the East flew to Accra, Ghana to attend the temple this week. Yesterday, when we met with them for one final meeting, Scott and I talked about the Parable of the 10 Virgins and how the 5 were not prepared though they did have oil in their lamps. We wanted these wonderful people to have everything ready by dotting all i's and crossing all t's. Well, they came this morning with their lamps full with extra oil. We were to meet at the Kissy Ferry dock by 7:00 am. Scott and I were up at 5:00 am and out the door by 6:00. By 7:00 am all 50 of them showed up on time with all passports, yellow fever cards and any other identification they would need! I can't describe how Scott and I felt seeing them all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to go. I thought about them last night – this is not only a Temple trip, but a vacation for them. They get to stay in temple housing with air conditioning, running filtered water, real beds with sheets, showers/baths, 24/7 electricity – I am so excited for them! This opportunity will likely never happen for them again and I hope they enjoy every minute.

The James Korama Family

Albert and Isata Pessima

Augustine Bunduka
Brother and Sister Dessama

Brother and Sister Ngegba

Brother Kamara and his daughter Musu

Fishermen from Lungi casting their nets to fish for the morning.

Alex Kandeh

Kissy at sunrise.

Jose Angelo Silah

Kissy waking up.

Lillian Missah with friends.

Mary Margay and her daughter Louisa Turay.

Michael Bockaire

Mohamed Conteh and Sahr Kellie

President and Sister Thomas.
The Fomba Family.

The James Family.
The Fomoh Family.
The Manley Family.
Theresa Kallon

The Bai Sesay Family
Isha Sesay on the Kissy Ferry with her family.

 We got home tonight at 5:30 pm and had yet to receive a phone call so we were pretty confident they got on the plane and were likely landing or had landed and were checking into housing. We kept our fingers crossed, sat down to dinner and just eating when Scott received a call from President Dessama – gulp. He just called to thank us for providing this opportunity for them and to let us know they had arrived safely. Today was payback to witness the results of a lot of prayers, hard work and perseverance.

Bai Sesay and family were all together and I asked him the rest of the story regarding his daughter Isha. He did in deed take his whole family back to the school and asked one more time to have his daughter excused from school for a week. The assistant principal stated she had wanted to see how committed he really was to his religion and consented to let Isha go after Bai had to go to all 13 of her teachers, arrange for them to test her upon her return, and of course, had to pay them each a sum of money.

The only downside to this day? While on the ferry, my cell phone was stolen from a side pocket in my pack. Could have been a lot worse if my tablet and money pouch were missing. It was actually kind of nice to go a day without a missionary calling me about something.

Second downside to the day – one of our African missionaries lost his mom today. She had been sick for about 2 weeks and then was taken to the hospital where she passed away. Sad day for this young man.

Elder Mogotsi - his mom passed away this past weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Today was a Christmas-like day around the apartment.

I turned the water pump on yesterday morning, and then again last night because I noticed very low pressure when I turned on the shower even after pumping twice in one day. I went to bed concerned I had burned up the pump motor thinking I was pumping water from an empty tank. Yikes! I didn't sleep well, and when 6:30 am rolled around I made Scott get up and go out to check on the tank and the pump. Thankfully, the water tank was not empty and the pump was not working. A plumber was called and he showed up and it was decided we needed a bigger pump. He left to get that and returned; in the meantime, Yah Yah calls and tells us he is almost at the door to bring a new refrigerator. He shows up with it, takes it out of the crate and come to find out, the freezer is on the bottom with pull out drawers; I can now look in the fridge without bending over at a 90 degree angle. I couldn't ask for a better gift than a new fridge. While the plumber is installing a new pump outside, we bring a leaky sink to the attention of Yah Yah and that gets fixed as well.
A new refrigerator! Sweet!

One of our branch missionaries needs to get his police clearance before he can go on his mission to Nigeria, so we had him wash our car inside and out to earn money. Additionally, he doesn't have a suitcase for his mission, so we donated the suitcase we “borrowed” from Randy and Carrie when we spent a few days with them prior to going into the MTC. Oh the stories that suitcase will be able to tell through the years if it lasts that long.

No phone calls from any of the temple trip saints with any problems.

Great day!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I saw Elder Mogotsi (from Botswana) who lost his mom earlier in the week. I had gone over to the church building where Orientation was taking place with 24 new missionaries and their trainers and he was sitting towards the back of the room; he caught my eye and I got close enough to him to take a hold of his hand, and express my sympathy through my eyes for his loss. He came up to the office after the meeting in order to find some privacy and call home to his family. He saw Scott and took a hold of his hand and then Scott reached out and took him into his bosom and held on to him. Tender moment.
Yes, it is transfer week and the welcoming of new missionaries.

It is 10:00 pm and we just got back from taking home two missionaries returning to Ghana tomorrow – Sister Attiogbe and Elder Coffie after completing their missions. We had the 3 assistants in the car with us as well. I can't say enough about the wonderful young adults who serve in Sierra Leone. Senior couples throughout the world, I am sure say the same about their missionaries – I have come to love them so deeply. We sang a hymn tonight at the fireside for the returning missionaries – Each Life That Touches Ours for Good – for the first time in 30 + years I didn't think of Barbara Stoddard while singing it – I thought of Julie Labrie-Porter; I am so grateful for her.
Elder Coffie

Sister Attiogbe
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Spent Thanksgiving afternoon with the Campbell's. We had a delightful meal and enjoyed the company of our Embassy friends.

Yes, we are eating a real Thanksgiving meal minus loved ones from home.

Relaxing on the couch!

Friday, November 29, 2013
Senior couples after Thanksgiving day dinner with the Burns, Lewis' (eye doctor from Gilbert, AZ here for a week teaching and training local doctors), Lauritzen's, Schlehuber's (they return to Sun City, AZ after 23 months), Ostler's and us. Good food and great company.

Saturday, November 30, 2013
We had a meeting scheduled in Kissy at 11:00 this morning so we left before 10:00 to get there. We sat around for 2 hours and still weren't invited in, so we gave up and came home. Frustrating to say the least.

Berta and Robert came over later, though, and installed a new printer we purchased from them. Only our 3rd attempt at using a printer from home, but this time it seems to be working and that makes Scott very happy. I think the fact that Robert installed it might be making the difference.